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How Not to Teach Science — And the Only Antidote
How Not to Teach Science — And the Only Antidote

How Not to Teach Science — And the Only Antidote

Teresa Bondora, owner of How to Teach Science (HT2S), says:
Science is not like math, which is progressive. In math we teach the simple concepts and then progress through simple operations, fractions, etc. We expect that very young children will learn to memorize their multiplication tables but cannot learn simple rules of chemistry or physics. When they have grasped these basic math concepts, we can begin the ideas of algebra. But in science, there is no linear progression. Science is web-like. All parts are interconnected. To answer one question in biology, we must use chemistry. To understand why in chemistry, we can use biology. Physics is dependent on the biology of the body to explain motion in humans.
Then why did physics develop historically as it did? Why are some concepts and principles more abstract than others, and hence dependent logically on those others? And why did geometry and Euclid’s Elements have such a profound, formative effect on modern physics? And why is math such a big part of science? She also says:
I have since learned that there is a very wrong way to teach science. The way we were taught, with Chemistry saved for High School, with the elitist attitude toward the “harder” sciences, books that stress content, it is very damaging and not at all the way to show our children how science works.
If you don’t stress content, then what do you stress? (For one thing, method makes no sense without content. For another, the subject(s), i.e., content, of a science is one thing that determines the methods needed to understand and investigate the subject — we cannot do psychology with the methods of physics, and we cannot do physics with the methods of psychology or biology.) The basic cause of this science teacher’s (Teresa Bondora’s) error is epistemological. She has a wrong theory of concepts and a wrong theory of logic and thinking method. She sees, for example, that all science is “web-like” (yes, all knowledge is interconnected; that is the epistemological principle of “integration”), then makes the unfounded conclusion that there is no “linear progression” in science. But from “interconnection,” “no linear progression” does not follow. The fact is that there is a linear progression dictated by (1) hierarchy and (2) cause-effect relationships. She disagrees with a wrong way to teach science — then offers us another wrong way to teach it. She might make science “fun;” she might have some good techniques as a teacher; she might have some things right that most science teachers don’t — but she has some basic flaws in her understanding of science. She would benefit from David Harriman’s methods. And I wish she would, and I hope she does! Maybe she has the independence of mind to learn from David Harriman; she seems to present herself as bucking the consensus, after all. It appears that The Lab of Mr. Q is flawed, too: it has fun rather than content, logic, and method. Nice that he, besides Mrs. Bondora, wants to make science fun — but there’s a lot more to it than that! David Harriman’s Falling Apple Science knows that, to teach science correctly, it must be taught in a linear progression — which is the only logical way to do it, i.e., the only way based on how the human mind grasps reality. They say:
There is a necessary logical order to the history of scientific discoveries. Nobody would claim that it is possible to understand calculus before grasping the principles of geometry and algebra. Similarly, one cannot develop modern genetics or immunology without chemistry, or understand modern chemistry without the atomic theory of matter, or prove the atomic theory without first grasping the basic principles of physics and scientific method. Each discovery was made possible by the previous discoveries. The history of science reveals the order in which the principles had to be learned, and therefore the order in which they should be taught. When a teacher violates this hierarchy of knowledge by presenting a principle without the evidence that led to it, then the student is given only a “floating abstraction”—which briefly resides in his mind as empty dogma and then is quickly forgotten. In contrast, the inductive approach gives the evidence that makes it possible to understand the ideas—and then science becomes an exciting and inspiring story of discovery, in which great thinkers triumph in their quest to grasp the nature of the universe. Copyright © 2009 Falling Apple Institute. All rights reserved.
They also say:
With the inductive approach, “so what?” becomes “so that’s how they figured it out!” Students grasp science as a tightly integrated, exciting story of discovery. Anything else is just a lot of hot air.
Amen. Science instruction does not get any better than this. Falling Apple Science is: 1.  
David Harriman — Director
David Harriman guides the development of the science curriculum and serves on the Board of Directors of Falling Apple Science. He has taught laboratory courses on electricity and magnetism at the University of Maryland (where he earned an M.S. degree in physics), and has taught philosophy courses at California State University at San Bernadino (he earned his M.A. degree in philosophy at the Claremont Graduate School). He also developed and taught a two-year physical science course to middle-school students at VanDamme Academy in Laguna Hills, California. 
Mr. Harriman has published articles dealing with the work of Galileo and Newton, with science during the 18th century Enlightenment, with the nature of experimental method, and with the development of the atomic theory of matter. He is currently writing a book entitled The Inductive Method in Physics, which offers profound new insights into the nature of the scientific discovery process. Copyright © 2009 Falling Apple Institute. All rights reserved.
2.  Tom VanDamme — Executive Director
Tom VanDamme is the executive director of Falling Apple Science and has a lead role in developing the curriculum. He earned his M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and is currently an MBA candidate at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He taught physics and all levels of math courses at Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba, Michigan. In 2001, he co-founded VanDamme Academy and served there as COO, principal and science teacher. As the academy’s science curriculum director, he developed courses for the elementary grades and supported Mr. Harriman’s physical science course with laboratory classes. Copyright © 2009 Falling Apple Institute. All rights reserved.
3.  Keith Lockitch, Ph.D. — Developer
Keith Lockitch works on development and documentation of the Falling Apple curriculum. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin and is now a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. He writes for ARI and teaches courses in writing and the history of physics at the Objectivist Academic Center. In the past, he has also taught science courses at VanDamme Academy. In addition, he has published articles on the fallacies of the “intelligent design” theory and on Darwin’s theory of evolution. Copyright © 2009 Falling Apple Institute. All rights reserved.

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